Reconstructing Rwanda: How Rwandan reporters use constructive journalism to promote peace

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In 1994 Rwanda, some journalists used their power for evil when government-run media houses perpetrated genocide through what scholars termed “hate media.” Since then, however, Rwanda’s media landscape has changed dramatically and the country has seen tremendous social and economic progress. Building on the tenets of social responsibility and framing theories and on literature regarding journalistic role functions, this study utilized qualitative interviews with Rwandan journalists to discover how they view their roles today and whether they have contributed to the reconstruction and recovery of the country by practicing constructive journalism. In keeping with the social responsibility theory of the press, constructive journalism calls for the news media to be an active participant in enhancing societal well-being. Results revealed that while journalists in Rwanda aim to fulfill traditional roles like informing and educating the public, they value a unique role to promote unity and reconciliation. They carry out this role by regularly practicing constructive journalism techniques, such as solutions journalism and restorative narrative, which involve reporting on stories that foster hope, healing, and resilience, and they strongly believe that this style of reporting has contributed to the country’s post-genocide reconstruction.

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